Army overthrows Mali government

2012-03-22 09:18

Bamako – Soldiers stormed state TV and announced that they had seized control of the nation, dissolving all of its institutions due to the nation’s mishandling of an insurgency in the north.

On national TV today, a group of about 20 soldiers were shown in fatigues crowding around a desk facing the camera. They introduced themselves as the National Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, or CNRDR.

“The CNRDR, representing all the elements of the armed forces, defensive forces and security forces, has decided to assume its responsibilities and end the incompetent and disavowed regime of (President) Amadou Toumani Toure,” said the group’s spokesperson reading from a statement.

“All the institutions of the republic are dissolved until further notice. The objective of the CNRDR does not in any way aim to confiscate power, and we solemnly swear to return power to a democratically-elected president as soon as national unity and territorial integrity are established.”

The sound of gunfire could be heard from the direction of the presidential palace.

A soldier at the palace who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press said that the president’s bodyguards had failed to defend the seat of government against the renegade soldiers, who burst in.

They searched the grounds but could not find Toure, the nation’s democratically-elected leader who was due to step down at the end of his term next month.

The series of events that culminated in the coup began yesterday morning at a military camp in the capital, Bamako, during a visit by defence minister General Sadio Gassama.

In his speech to the troops, the minister failed to address the grievances of the rank-and-file soldiers, who are angry over what they say is the government’s mismanagement of a rebellion in the north by Tuareg separatists.

The rebellion has claimed the lives of numerous soldiers, and those sent to fight are not given sufficient supplies, including arms or food. Their widows have not received compensation.

Recruits started firing into the air yesterday, and they stoned the general’s car as it raced away.

By afternoon, soldiers had surrounded the state TV station in central Bamako, yanking both the TV and radio signals off the air for more than seven hours.

By yesterday evening, troops had started rioting at a military garrison located in the northern town of Gao, about 3 219km away.

A freelance journalist from Sweden who was driving to her hotel near the TV station at about 4pm local time yesterday, said that trucks full of soldiers had surrounded the state broadcaster.

“We saw a couple of trucks, with military on them. They came and started setting up checkpoints. There were military in the streets, stopping people,” said Katarina Hoije.

“When we reached our hotel which is just in front of the TV station, there were lots of military outside, and more cars kept arriving – pick-up trucks with soldiers on them.”

Hoije said that they set up two machine guns facing the building.

In Washington, US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: “The situation is currently unclear and unfolding quickly.

“There are reports of military forces surrounding the presidential palace and movement of vehicles between the palace and the military barracks.”

The Tuareg uprising that began in mid-January is being fuelled by arms left-over from the civil war in neighbouring Libya.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the north, and refugees have spilled over into four of the nations neighbouring Mali due to the uprising.

The government has not disclosed how many soldiers have been killed, but the toll has been significant. In February, military widows led a protest.

In an attempt to diffuse tension, the Malian president allowed himself to be filmed meeting the widows, who publicly grilled him on his handling of the rebellion.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.